|Juvenile (Childhood) Arthritis|
|Classification and external resources|
Childhood Arthritis (JA) also known as Juvenile arthritis is any form of arthritis or arthritis related conditions which affects individuals under the age of 16. Juvenile Arthritis is a chronic, autoimmune disease affecting approximately 294,000-250,000 children and teens making juvenile arthritis one of the most common childhood diseases in the US. Three classifications of juvenile arthritis exist-juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA), juvenile chronic arthritis (JCA), and juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) of which, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is the most common.
Three main types of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis exist and classification is based upon symptoms, number of joints involved and the presence of antibodies in the blood. Polyarticular arthritis is the first type of arthritis which affects about 30-40% of children with arthritis and is more common in girls than boys. Typically five or more joints are affected (usually smaller joints such as the hands and feet but many also affect the hips, neck, shoulders and jaw). Oligoarticular (pauciarticular) arthritis can be early or late onset and is the second type of arthritis affecting about 50% of children with juvenile arthritis. This type affects fewer than four joints (usually the large joints such as knees, ankles or wrists) and may cause eye inflammation in girls with positive anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA).  Girls younger than eight are more likely to develop this type of arthritis. Systemic is the final classification of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis where 10-20% of children (boys and girls equally) are affected with limited movement, swelling and pain in at least one joint. A common symptom of this type of arthritis is a high, spiking fever of 103 °F (39.4 °C) or higher, lasting for weeks or months and a rash of pale red spots on the chest, thighs or other parts of the body may also be visible.
In most cases, juvenile arthritis is caused by the body attacking its own healthy cells and tissues causing the joint to become inflamed and stiff. Once the joint has become inflamed and stiff, damage is done to the joint and the growth of the joint may by changed or impaired. Early diagnosis and treatment by a paediatric rheumatologist or a rheumatologist can help manage inflammation, relieve pain, and prevent joint damage. Careful examination, laboratory tests (blood and urine), and X-rays may be some of the tests conducted by a doctor. The treatment of juvenile arthritis may include medications, therapy, splints and in severe cases surgery. These treatments are focused on reducing swelling, relieving pain and maintaining full movement of joints. Children are encouraged to be involved in extra-curricular activities, physical activity when possible, and to live a normal life.
- Arthritis Foundation. (2012). Juvenile Arthritis Face Sheet. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from Arthritis Foundation: http://www.arthritis.org/ja-fact-sheet.php
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2012). Orthoinfo. Retrieved March 21, 2012, from American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00075
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011). Arthritis. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/childhood.htm
- American College of Rheumatology. (2011). Practice Management. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from American College of Rheumatology:http://www.rheumatology.org/practice/clinical/patients/diseases_and_conditions/juvenilearthritis.asp
- National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases - US National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases